NiKo: "Biggest goal for 2019 is to knock Astralis off the top; tired of watching them win everything"
BLAST Pro Series Lisbon will be FaZe's first LAN event in over a month, after the team finished outside the qualification zone in ECS and in the ESL Pro League.
In this interview, the Bosnian shares his thoughts on what FaZe's year has been like and his expectations for 2019. He also opens up about watching Astralis win the Intel Grand Slam title, which his own team came close to winning.
This will be your first LAN event in a while. What are your expectations for it?
We always go to events to win. But our expectations are not as high as they were for IEM Chicago and BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen. This is our last event of the year and we want to end it on a good note. We did not have a super good preparation for it, we just practiced a little bit, we will try to do our best. We are just looking forward to having some vacation and starting the next year.
Is there a specific reason why you could not have a proper preparation for the event?
The biggest reason is that we did not qualify for the ECS Finals and the ESL Pro League Finals, which was very frustrating, especially EPL, since we could have tried to defend the Intel Grand Slam from Astralis. It was annoying to watch them win it like that. Not qualifying for that event was frustrating, and that is why we lacked some motivation to prepare for this event.
What was the biggest reason why you think your team could not qualify for those two events?
It is just online CS for us. We played very poorly and had like a 1-1 record against most of the teams. There were many times in which we came home and the same day we had to play online CS, and times in which we would have to play online games as soon as we arrived at events. The online season was terrible for us, the schedule was also messed up. No one cared about online CS because we had so many events going on.
The year is about to come to an end. When you look back, how would you review 2018?
I guess it was not too bad, especially since we did not have olof for four months. It is hard to say because we were very close to winning a Major and IEM Katowice. If we had won those events, I would say that our year had been quite good. We still won three events, but it was not very convincing. Our year had lots of ups and downs, but, having missed olof for four months, I would say it has been a fine year.
Individually, I would say that it has been pretty good, obviously, maybe slightly better than last year, but I do not care really that much because we are not even considered to be the best team in the world or even top two. I just want to get my team back to the top, then I can consider myself again to be the best player in the world.
There has been a lot of talk about karrigan's spot on the team. What is the team's situation at the moment?
As I said, not qualifying for these two events was very disappointing for us, and we did not have a lot of preparation for BLAST. I cannot say anything right now, I just want to play this event as we have every event this year. We will see what is going to happen after that, I cannot say anything.
What are your expectations for 2019? What do you think that the team will need to do to get back to the top?
I just think that what we need to do is take preparation more seriously than we did this year. We have been practicing, but not actually putting in time into fixing a lot of stuff, which Astralis are the best at, I would say. The biggest goal for next year is just to knock Astralis off the top, that is my biggest motivation. I am too tired of watching them win everything this year. I just hope we find the motivation that we got when we brought in olof and GuardiaN last year. I think we are the team who can beat them and that we can take them off the top.
What was it like to watch Astralis win the Intel Grand Slam after having two chances to win this prize yourself?
It was super frustrating, it was so bad, especially because we were not at the event [ESL Pro League S8 Finals] to try to stop them. That was the most frustrating thing, we were just watching from home. Not being there was super tilting. We knew we were supposed to be the team winning the Grand Slam, but we f*cked up many finals. They fully deserved it, but it was just our fault that we did not win it before, I would say.